At the start of First Grade, I was determined to walk to school everyday. Last year, we took the bus to school so I could avoid starting everyday frustrated and repeating "hurry up, hurry up", every few minutes.
Other reasons for walking to school, losing weight (me) and reinforcing (my daughter) that New York City is a walking city, not a taxi catching- bus taking town. There is nothing sadder than a 6 year old, holding up their hand to hail a taxi to go five blocks or whining "my legs are tired" after walking a few blocks.
That said, our morning walk has now turned into the "The Amazing Race", an obstacle course beset with setbacks, diversions and joys of wonder.
The day starts with taking the elevator down eleven flights. This is usually uneventful unless a neighbor gets into the elevator with their dog. This is met with excitement by daughter as it should be. "Can I pet your dog? " my daughter always politely asks and most times, the owner says yes. This diversion adds in extra five minutes to the walk.
Then we hit the lobby, where we have to stop to give the doorman a hug and answer a few questions about the upcoming day. I tried to avoid this obstacle by leaving from the side door but I am usually met with sadness and on occasion a temper tantrum from my daughter. Again depending on the day, this diversion takes another 3-5 minutes.
Then the real journey begins. Children are creatures of habit. If they are used to walking a certain way, they will insist on stopping at the corner, wait for the light to turn green versus walking to catch the light further down the street. This drives me nuts because it adds time to the trip. My daughter has also begun insisting on not walking down certain streets that might be too dirty or sees trash on the street. I don't blame her but really...
Continuing our journey, we truly have our very own obstacle course. There is a building in our neighborhood that has a u-shaped driveway in the front of a very nice high rise. My daughter insists on going through the obstacle course aka the driveway. I used to get upset and slightly freaked out because it is a driveway. Frankly so few cars come through that I gave up arguing with her. There is a also huge speed bump as you enter the driveway and a 90 degree turn that making it easier to see a car coming before it even came close to hitting her. This obstacle course on good day takes a couple of minutes.
I am sure people are thinking to themselves what a terrible mother, letting her daughter run across the driveway.
As we continue our journey, my daughter insists on walking through a park. This doesn't bother me as we walk by a private school where I always see Julianne Moore and Laura (the redhead) from Project Runway dropping their kids off. I will admit it, I have tried to get pictures but unlike the paparazzi, I have yet to figure out how to get the shot without photographing their child.
Seeing the school in the distant, it's the home stretch so you would think but noooo.!!! My daughter aka Miss popularity has to stop and talk to every little kid along the way. Walking and talking, she has not mastered yet.
We finally arrive at the school and enter the chaos that is the New York City School, which is much like a roller derby, avoiding swinging backbacks, trying not to knock over tiny toddler siblings and dodging upper graders crowding the stairs.
Whew!!! It's 8:25. Just in time. Mrs. F. opens the door and off my daughter goes disappearing into the classroom.
I head down the stairs with a sigh, relaxed until the next morning when we have to do it all over again.
It's the Amazing Race !!!